As a lover of all things health and fitness related, I have received my share of comments and questions.
- WHY do you like to work out?
- Is it okay to do XYZ?
- How can I get started strength training?
And sooooo many more. Of all the questions I receive, the following question seems both the simplest and most challenging to answer.
How do I eat better? or What do I need to do to eat healthily?
Now, there’s a loaded question. And I want to try my hand at tackling it.
- Consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods and beverages in as close to their natural form as possible.
- Limit the intake of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt, and alcohol.
- Distribute protein, carbohydrate, and fat throughout the day and at each meal. Don’t fear fat. Don’t avoid carbohydrates. Don’t forget about protein. Have a well rounded variety and meal plan. They all have a purpose in our diets.
- Choose whole grains and fresh produce over refined grains and simple sugars.
- Get ample fiber – approximately 25 grams per day.
- Schedule meals at regular intervals throughout the day. This helps control hunger, minimize blood sugar fluctuations, and increase energy levels throughout the day.
- Drink a lot of water (8 to 12 cups/day). Minimize drinks that contain extra calories and sugars.
- Avoid highly processed foods and foods with minimal nutritional value. These often do little to provide satiety, can increase blood sugar fluctuations, and spark additional cravings.
- Don’t leave yourself feeling deprived. Experiment to find healthy options you enjoy and incorporate those foods often. Feel free to indulge on occasion. The key is in consistent, overall healthy eating habits and calorie control. Shoot for a balance of 80 % natural, wholesome foods and 20 % other items. Just make sure to focus on things you love for those treats! That way you can feel satisfied.
- If you eat more than anticipated at a meal, don’t adopt the “all or nothing” attitude. You can make changes at your next meal. You didn’t blow it. An off meal or day here or there will not ruin your chances at achieving your goals. Pick up normal, balanced eating habits as soon as possible. Try not to restrict or do extra exercise to “make up for it” either. Get back in the normal groove and learn from the experience.
- Familiarize yourself with serving sizes and the calories you consume. Also, know the ingredients in the products you consume.
- Ensure you are eating enough for your activity level. Eating too little can hinder progress as well, possibly slowing your metabolism, leading to overeating, decreasing energy for workouts, etc. Keep in mind the post workout window of opportunity. Consume a combination of protein and carbohydrates within 90 minutes of a workout to improve recovery. Fuel yourself!
Please note that I am not a registered dietician or certified nutritionist. The above suggestions are all based on personal experience and study. They are very general in nature. Always consult your own doctor with questions about your personal health and nutrition.
What tips or suggestions would you give someone wanting advice on healthy eating?
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